May 03, 2021 9:40 PM

Roosevelt students learn life skills as part of AmeriTowne project

Posted May 03, 2021 9:40 PM
Roosevelt Elementary School fifth-grader Kyle Burkholder votes for mayor and judge during the fifth grade's AmeriTowne general election on Wednesday at the school.
Roosevelt Elementary School fifth-grader Kyle Burkholder votes for mayor and judge during the fifth grade's AmeriTowne general election on Wednesday at the school.

By CRISTINA JANNEY
Hays Post

Students at Roosevelt Elementary School are getting a taste of being adults, learning how to write checks, interviewing for jobs and having their own elections.

The lessons are a part of the the AmeriTowne curriculum, which the school is using for the first time this year.

The students participated in a general election on Wednesday for a mayor and judge for their AmeriTowne city. These two students will represent the fifth graders when Roosevelt's three classes travel to Lenora for activities in May.

The program is sponsored by Nex-Tech's Nex-Generation Round Up for Youth.

"When they attend AmeriTowne, it's a field trip in Lenora, our kids turn into miniature adults," fifth-grade teacher Katelyn Schmidt said. "They have a job. They interview for their job. They have a checking account. They learn how to write checks."

Prior to Wednesday, the students participated in a primary election.

A Roosevelt fifth-grader KJ Walker holds up a campaign poster while Rylee Heeren gives her campaign speech during the school's AmeriTowne general election on Wednesday.
A Roosevelt fifth-grader KJ Walker holds up a campaign poster while Rylee Heeren gives her campaign speech during the school's AmeriTowne general election on Wednesday.

Candidates gave short speeches, displayed campaign posters and handed out campaign buttons or stickers to their peers on Wednesday.

Then the students voted in a secret ballot, using the voting stations and one of the same ballot boxes that are used by adults in Ellis County. These items were loaned to the school by Ellis County Clerk Bobbi Dreiling.

"They definitely get real-life skills," Schmidt said. "They get a little more hands-on experience as to what an election is and what it entails."

Kylee Odom, Roosevelt fifth-grader gives a campaign speech while Jenna Schmeidler holds her poster. Roosevelt fifth-graders ran for mayor and judge. The students who win will preside over the three fifth-grade classes when they take a field trip to Lenora to complete their AmeriTowne curriculum later this month.
Kylee Odom, Roosevelt fifth-grader gives a campaign speech while Jenna Schmeidler holds her poster. Roosevelt fifth-graders ran for mayor and judge. The students who win will preside over the three fifth-grade classes when they take a field trip to Lenora to complete their AmeriTowne curriculum later this month.

Fifth-grade teacher Erika Norris said the students are learning vital life skills.

"That is something they really need to know — how to manage their money," she said. "We talked about spending money on things that are needed before our wants.

"They are learning job interviewing skills, which I would have so loved to know at a young age. They are already going to know how to interview for a job they are interested in when they are older and be able to speak in front of people they don't necessarily know."

The students are learning the importance of being informed voters rather than voting for something they think sounds good or what their friends might be voting for, Norris said.

"This is something they are really excited for," she said. "This is something they really look forward to. When we say we're going to do an AmeriTowne lesson, they're pumped. They're ready for it."

Fifth grader Kaylee Kollman drops her ballot in a ballot box while Riley Zimmerman waits behind her during the Roosevelt student election on Wednesday. Ellis County Clerk Bobbi Dreiling lent the school voting stations, ballot clipboards and a ballot box for their election.
Fifth grader Kaylee Kollman drops her ballot in a ballot box while Riley Zimmerman waits behind her during the Roosevelt student election on Wednesday. Ellis County Clerk Bobbi Dreiling lent the school voting stations, ballot clipboards and a ballot box for their election.

Kylee Odom ran for mayor during the AmeriTowne election. She said she thought it would be fun to run a city.

She said she thought she would be a good mayor because she follows the principles her school has established for a good student, including being honest, respectful, compassionate, independent and motivated.

Madicyn Urban, fifth-grader, ran for the position of AmeriTowne judge.

She said enjoyed learning about things she is going to have to do in the future as an adult. She said she liked learning about writing checks and using a check register.

Campaign buttons the students handed out during their election.
Campaign buttons the students handed out during their election.